“Write The Comic You Want To Read”

I don’t know where ideas for stories come from. I don’t. Every story idea I’ve ever had has hit me when I haven’t been expecting it. I’d like to think that when it happens, the creative side of my brain is open enough to receive whatever the universe is putting out there…but that makes me sound like I’m a lot deeper than I really am. Or it makes the process of creating something seem like a lot less work than it really is. So for the next few paragraphs I’ll try and give you the answer to how I came up with Dash, this is our process blog after all, but forgive me if it’s not all that specific. I still don’t really know. But if I was to hazard a guess, it started when I heard someone say: “Write the comic that you’d want to read.”

To make a long story short (and if you are a fan of the movie Clue you’ll instantly shout “TOO LATE!” when you read that) I was going through some health problems. It wasn’t life threatening really, but it was life changing. For ten years or so I had thrown my life into theater; acting, directing, writing, even forming a small company. But under the doctor’s strongly worded advice (and she sounded like the Daughter of Dracula so it kind of frightened me), I took some time off from everything I spent the last decade doing. I sank into a depression. Many of my friends tried to cheer me up, saying: “Look, now you have ALL this time to write!” And I did. I wrote plays, came up with ideas for plays, did research on plays I wanted to direct… and none of it made me happy. In fact, nothing was making me happy (I’d like to point out that my husband should be awarded some kind of medal for dealing with me at this time.) The only thing that was making me happy was comic books.

I dove into my comic collection. I added so many titles to my pull list at my LCS (Comic Universe in Folsom PA) that I was collecting some twenty titles a month. I started to step out of my comfort zone, too, in what I was reading. What is Fatale? Who is this last man called Y? Peter Panzerfaust, huh? And on and on. But over all of them, this one relatively new writer caught my attention. There was something in his writing that I couldn’t put down. So I looked into him, read a few interviews, and really dug what he was all about. And then I heard him say a phrase that somehow jolted my brain out of a great depression “Write the comic that you’d want to read.” I had never heard anyone say that before. It was like a challenge, a dare, a question I did not have an answer to. Then I saw that he was teaching a week long seminar on writing comics as part of Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Seminar for Writers. For once in my life, my time wasn’t taken up with rehearsals, it was wide open. I could go, but should I? Could I? What would I submit to be accepted into the seminar? What did I have? Nothing. So there I left it, for a month.

But like some Ceti Eel from Star Trek, the question was turning around in my brain, asking, and asking, and asking– until one day there was an answer. Right as I was falling asleep after a very exhausting day, it hit me. All of it just hit. The characters turned up and started talking. They told me who they were, where they came from, why they did the things they did. The world opened on itself and the landscape of many plot lines converged together until the map was clear where we needed to go. And it was everything I wanted to read that wasn’t really out there. So I wrote it. Not only did I write one issue, but I wrote outlines and plots for forty issues. I submitted just my script for the first issue and…I was accepted. Then, knowing no one or anything really, I went.

Now, this may seem like I’m being some gushing fanboy, but I’m not lying when I say Scott Snyder was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. For one week he taught me more about comics than I ever thought possible. He broke down the opening to Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin #1 to the point I got a bit misty eyed. He introduced me to titles I’ve never heard before. He gave me some incredible feedback, amazingly helpful constructive criticism, and some personal career advice that I really needed to hear. Not only did I receive some amazing instruction from Mr. Snyder, but I met a group of people who were just as passionate and determined about their stories as I was about my mine. Knowing them and cheering them on over the past year has been more inspiring and motivating than I can say.

As I was at the writing seminar, there was a force working behind that scenes I could not see. My good friend, we’ll call her Sara cause that’s her name, took my script and sent it to an artist friend of hers. The artist was named Delia Gable. Now I had met Delia before and always thought she was way cooler than myself. I had never thought anything I wrote would ever interest her. I was dead wrong. A week after I got back from the seminar, we were on the phone talking and planning and laying the foundation to one of the best creative partnerships I’ve ever had. We call it Team Dash.

A year later more has happened than I ever expected. We’ve put so much work, and time, and love into this story. I couldn’t be prouder of how it’s all coming together. Every week when Delia sends me new art, I jump. I do. I physically jump up and down that her talent and know-how tells this story way more than I ever could. And even after rehashing it all, I still don’t really know how I came up with the story. Somehow I was open enough to hear what the universe was throwing out there. And I didn’t have a whole lot to do with it. The only thing I got was I somehow managed to answer the question that was put in front of me. I wrote the comic I wanted to read. I’m hoping you’ll want to read it to. -Dave